Best of Iowa Beers (Part 1 of 2)

beerbaronWith another year coming to an end it’s time to get to the “Best of” Iowa beers in 2017. It was a terrific year for our state and this year for my list (and opinions) I’ve done just strictly Iowa brewed beers whereas in the past I did beers that are on Eastern Iowa shelves along with Iowa beers. To get the list down to 10 was difficult and I had to drink many beers to get through such a dilemma.

Now, I must say, I haven’t been able to get to Central and Western Iowa as much as I would have liked so you will see this list filled predominantly with beers brewed in Eastern Iowa. I wish I could get more or any 515, Barn Town, Marto, etc…but it’s not in the cards. Hopefully with the new year we see some more Iowa beers from Central and Western Iowa trickle into our tap lines. So, once again, I just want to note that there are MANY beers I haven’t tried, I don’t want to cause I shit storm (RIP Lahey), but hopefully the new year brings me new beer.

Alright, my criteria:
1. It has to be a beer I haven’t had before.
2. Seasonal and annual releases may fluctuate in ingredients but I do not count them if I have had it the previous year.
3. Iowa brewed only

Without further ado, here is part one of two, in no particular order of the best Iowa beers in 2017 (according to me).

fire skulls**Toppling Goliath – Fire, Skulls, and Money – I was deciding between this and Supa Sumo and the deciding factor was how much of this beer I’ve bought. Price was a little steeper than some TG releases but worth it for this brew. I believe this was their take/rendition of a West Coast style IPA.  I found it to be less bitter than many west coast styles with an excellent citra punch. Could easily have two of this brewin a sitting. I’ve seen some bottles around yet and had one last weekend. Tastes great, go grab some!
The Deets:

7% ABV
Inspired by a trip to the West Coast, designed to capture the wild spirit of adventure and brewed to be enjoyed with friends. This rich IPA is for those with wanderlust in their heart and fire in their eyes. Join our Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Nelson Hops on a journey to the bottom of your glass

coconut.png**SingleSpeed Coconut Migration – My beer of the summer. The first time I had it was sample at Need Pizza, my wife got a whole pint but I was a bit apprehensive, wasn’t sure the pina colada thing would fly in an IPA. Took a sip…was hooked. Sought it out all summer and ended up back and Need and the Map Room quite often hammering a few of these. Give me this poolside or beachside and I’m in heaven. I’m not sure if this is year round or not but I’ve been seeing it a little more often. If you dig Pina Coladas and you’re a hophead, this is the beer for you.
The Deets:

7.4% ABV

75 IBU
American Double IPA, rested on toasted coconut
A Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Decorah, IA) / SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Collaboration Brewing with the guys from Pulpit Rock is like taking a vacation. This time around our destination is the tropics. If you like Piña Coladas and/or getting caught in the rain you’re probably gonna be feeling this beer. If you don’t like either of those things, well that sucks for you. We still recommend ordering one.

richard.jpg**Big Grove Jean Luc Richard – The first time I had this I thought maybe the setting of the event I was at played into how much I loved it, and it may have a bit, but I’ve had since the Kroul Farm’s dinner and it is still a spectacular beer. Like many barrel-aged stouts, the flavor in this one shines as it warms and the creme brulee flavors take shape even more. Is it considered “dick swinging” if I brag about how I’m the number 1 drinker of this brew on untappd, or is that just a pathetic brag? Oh well. Not sure how often Big Grove will be kicking this bad boy out, but if you see, go after it!
The Deets:

10.5% ABV
Barrel aged imperial stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Inspired by crème brûlèe.

dangler.jpg**Lion Bridge Dangler – another awesome Iowa brewed IPA made it’s debut this past summer and was a hit with many. Lower on the ABV than some IPAs, which is not a bad thing, made for an extremely drinkable IPA with all the tropical and citrus flavors you expect from a great IPA. Lion Bridge continues to make excellent beers in many different styles. One of my favorite places to go for a drink and bite to eat in Eastern Iowa. Also, their nachos and fries with the lemon aioli are fantastic.
The Deets:

5.9%
Pair Mosaic, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops with a fruit-forward yeast and a malt profile full of wheat and oats, and the result is a juice bomb full of creamy mango and orange flavors.

kickshaw**Kickshaw Vidi – Even though Bill has moved on to other things (fingers crossed he brews again), this beer blows me away every time I have it. Bottles may not have strayed too far away from Eastern Iowa, I’m happily sitting on a few, but if you come across one, you need to give it a try. Of course, it’s not an IPA or barrel-aged stout, but a wonderful golden ale/saison with greatness from the brett. You like sours and saisons, then you would enjoy this.

Alright, there’s the first five. Five more to come next week. I would love to know your favorites of the year! Cheers to all the Iowa breweries and brewers out there; your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated!

Bar Review: The Map Room; Cedar Rapids, IA

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Add The Map Room to the ever-growing list of great bars/restaurants in Cedar Rapids. What used to be Stella’s, located at 3rd St. SE right across from the Backpocket Pilot Pub, The Map Room is the perfect place to meet up with co-workers, have a quick drink, an order of one of their unique fry baskets or even grab yourself a burger.

This place is what you want your local bar to be; cozy, comfortable, friendly wait staff, good beer and booze list, and some very good fries and burgers. The prices on the food were very friendly and the unique offerings make it a great place to try their different burger and fry basket toppings. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had SingleSpeed/Pulpit collab Coconut Migration, which has become my favorite beer of the summer so far, along with an Alpine, Lion Bridge, and many more offerings. Around 10-12 tap lines and a nice booze selection as well.

On my visit I enjoyed a Coconut Migration (or 2) and although I wasn’t very hungry the fries were calling to me. I went with the Cusco Fries, which come with a beef gravy, onions, tomatoes, and a cilantro type pesto. They were terrific with the perfect amount of spice and went perfectly with the beer. The Map Room is the perfect place to go before a Kernels game, meet for post work beers, have a quick bite to eat and enjoy the comfort that this cozy bar creates. This is a bar that I will be stopping at when I’m in downtown CR. Check it out if you get to the area, you won’t regret it! Cheers!

 

 

Drink This! SingleSpeed + Pulpit Rock Coconut Migration Double IPA

cocont.jpgSweltering hot and humid Iowa summers make you yearn for a beachside drink while overlooking the ocean, well, for me they do and thankfully SingleSpeed Brewery and Pulpit Rock Brewery have teamed up for a collab that brings the tropics to Iowa. We are missing the white sandy beaches and crystal clear ocean but we have the drink…we have the drink!!

Visiting Need Pizza I was honestly a bit skeptical of ordering this beer as it didn’t seem coconut and a double IPA would go well together. I ordered a small sample and my skepticism was immediately put to rest! Pineapple and coconut are very evident and extremely refreshing, not too overpowering and the hop profile does not overpower or get lost with the toasted coconut. A very creamy double IPA that goes down easily. As I stated in my untappd check-in, if a double IPA and a Pina Colada banged the shit out of each each this would be their love child.

Here’s more from the brewery on this beer:

American Double IPA, rested on toasted coconut

A Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Decorah, IA) / SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Collaboration

Brewing with the guys from Pulpit Rock is like taking a vacation. This time around our destination is the tropics. If you like Piña Coladas and/or getting caught in the rain you’re probably gonna be feeling this beer. If you don’t like either of those things, well that sucks for you. We still recommend ordering one.

This is a Pina Colada in beer form, but for me, it tastes even better. If you don’t like coconut, then, as SingleSpeed said, sucks for you, if you enjoy coconut and tropical fruits this a beer you must seek out this summer. Thankfully, Need Pizza and I believe Bricks had it in Cedar Rapids, for how long? I’m not sure, but I hope this beer hits more lines. Possible beer of the year so far for me. Drink This! this summer!

A Quick Trip To SingleSpeed Brewing Company

IMG_3175.JPG.jpegThis past weekend my wife and I were traveling to Dike for a fundraiser and decided to set some time aside to travel to downtown Cedar Falls to visit SingleSpeed Brewery. I had never been to SingleSpeed but only had their white IPA at a beer festival, which I found refreshing, so I was looking forward to checking out another Iowa brewery.

Downtown Cedar Falls is quite lovely, my first trip, local shops and restaurants and best of all…a brewery. Very quaint and comfortable upon entering with quite a few people getting growler fills to take home and enjoy on what was a hot Saturday afternoon. I didn’t have time to take a tour or eat but I was able to get a flight of brews.

 

IMG_3176.JPGHere’s what we tried:
*Brewed X2 – imperial coffee brown ale
*Victory Dance – IPA with citrus and tropical flavor. Very refreshing.
*Tip the Cow – espresso milk stout.
*Mosaic – single hop series brew.

IMG_3177.JPG

All were very enjoyable. Really dug the Victory Dance and could have enjoyed quite a few of those but the star to me was the Mosaic! Part of their Single hop Series, this pale ale showcased the tropical fruitiness of this great hop! Loved this beer, very drinkable!

IMG_3181.JPGSingle Speed will be opening up another brewery in what was the Wonder Bread building in Waterloo. I believe they will still operate out of their Cedar Falls brewery as well. More on the new brewery here.

An overall fun albeit quick trip to this brewery. Very excited for their future and what they will offer when the new brewery is complete. Would love some of that Victory Dance and more from the Single Hop Series. Well done SingleSpeed, excited for my next trip to Cedar Falls!

Iowa Breweries Gift Giving Guide 2014

santaDid everyone survive Bourbon County day?! We can now get back to a little normalcy in the beer world. Hope Thanksgiving went well and everyone drank some tasty brews but now it’s on to Christmas! And what better way to show someone you love them than with some great Iowa beer and apparel! (I was going to use the word swag but I think I’m too old). Below is a list I’ve compiled with the help of some great Iowa breweries of items that they have for sale. I’m a sucker for glassware and shirts from breweries so this stuff is right up my alley. The links that follow should take you to each breweries store, please let me know if a link is not working.

millstreamMillstream Brewing Company – Amana, IA:
*Clothing – shirts and hats ranging anywhere from $10-$50
*Glassware – pint glasses to growlers from $4.25 – $35.
*Miscellaneous – signs, koozies, coasters and more!
Baron’s pick: The new Millstream tshirts are pretty sweet and a good price at $17.50, but I think their old school metal sign is the way to go especially if you have a nice little Beer Cave to hang it in. Sign clocks in at $15.70.
http://shop.millstreambrewing.com/

firetruckerFiretrucker Brewery – Ankeny, IA: 

*Clothing – this upstart brewery has 2 t-shirts, a sweatshirt and kick-ass looking biking t-shirt to choose from ranging from $25-$135.
*Glassware – a 16 oz pint glass with their sweet looking logo at $12.
*Miscellaneous – stickers and coasters from $2-$5.
Baron’s pick: Going with the sweatshirt for $55 and the pint glass for $12. Love the logo on both, especially with a nice stout poured behind it.
http://www.firetrucker.com/swag.php

singlespeedSinglespeed Brewery – Cedar Falls, IA:Shamefully I haven’t been to Singlespeed yet, but I’ve heard great things are happening in Cedar Falls. My New Year’s Resolution is to drink more at all Iowa Breweries! 🙂
*Clothing – t-shirts, hoodies, and brewers shirts ranging from $20-$50.
*Glassware – pub glasses, flasks, growlers ranging from $6-$60.
*Miscellaneous – gifts cards and bottle openers.
Baron’s pick: The beer glasses. Gift cards are available in any amount as well.
http://www.singlespeedbrewing.com/gear/default.aspx

lion bridgeLion Bridge Brewery – Cedar Rapids, IA: A spot you can probably find me at on any given weekend. So thankful that they have opened up so close to home. Along with great beer the food is damn good as well (pork nachos anyone?).
*Clothing – t-shirts ranging in color. Nothing on the website yet but they do have a little shop setup in the brewery. I believe I got the last powder blue and red!
*Glassware – If you are a beer glass junkie like myself Lion Bridge can set you up. Taster glasses, pint glasses, snifters, etc. All there, all for sale…I believe. Along with growlers and meowlers.
*Miscellaneous – CSA. Their community sponsored ales program. A one time fee gets you discounts, a t-shirt, growler, 1st growler fill, and growler fills on speciality beers all for $80 I believe.
Baron’s Pick: Well, I’ve already picked up a shirt, glasses, and the CSA will be joined soon. So I guess I’ll recommend all three!

515515 Brewing – Clive, IA – Anytime I’m in the Des Moines area I make a stop at 515. Love the people here, love the atmosphere and love the beer! No online shop as of now but stop in and have a pint and grab something to take home with you.
*Clothing – last time I was there they had 3 different t-shirts to choose from. I got a sweet looking gray with the logo on it.
*Glassware – I vaguely remember a few different glasses to choose from. I bought a nice snifter, perfect for a nice stout or porter!
Baron’s Pick: – Love the t-shirt I own and my snifter, I highly recommend!

toppling goliath Toppling Goliath – Decorah, IA – Arguably the most recognized Iowa brewery has some really cool gear to pick up. I recently picked up a King Sue Teku glass (now kicking myself in the ass for not getting an Assassin Teku as well).
*Clothing – t-shirts, sweatshirts, a nice little pseudosue pack consisting of a hat, shirt, and two coasters.
*Glassware – well, the King Sue and Assassin Tekus rock the shit. Got one, want more. They also have pint glasses, chalices, snifters, with not just the TG logo, but their specific beer logos.
*Miscellaneous – openers, stickers, and coasters.
Baron’s Choice – The Teku is the obvious choice for me. These are awesome!

www.tgbrews.wazala.com

confluenceConfluence Brewing – Des Moines, IA – Confluence keeps rolling out some excellent brews. Really enjoyed Ayana’s Rhino Rye and hope to see it again in the future!
*Clothing -They have sweatshirts, bike jerseys, T’s and other apparel.
*Glassware – 64 oz and 32 oz growlers.
*Baron’s Choice – pick up a t-shirt. I’m not sure what color scheme they have as they don’t currently have an online store, but give them a call or drop them an email. http://www.confluencebrewing.com/

peace treePeace Tree Brewing – Knoxville, IA – Another brewery making big splashes is Peace Tree. Located in Knoxville, this brewery has some really sweet looking apparel and other offerings.
*Clothing – t-shirts and bicycle shirts ranging from $15-$75.
*Glassware – awesome looking glassware and even a cool pint glass and opener set.
*Miscellaneous – bottle caps, openers, patches, labels and more.
*Baron’s Choice – I love the Peace Tree Beanie found here:http://store.peacetreebrewing.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=0001013. Added to my wishlist!

big groveBig Grove Brewery – Solon, IA – nothing has been hotter than Big Grove in Solon. With the amount of attention and recognition they get you’d think they would have been open for years, but it’s only been one! So much good things being created here both beer and food wise, makes this another frequent destination of the Baron.
*Clothing – upon walking in on my last visit I saw the wall to my left had new Big Grove t-shirts made by Tailgate Clothing company! Wonderfully comfortable shirts that always look great. I will be adding all three to my collection.
*Glassware – growlers and the last I was there they still had a few 1 year anniversary tulip glasses for sale. Awesome glasses, highly recommended!
Baron’s Choice – I must own the shirts! They are awesome! You will not be disappointed! Check them out on your next visit. I have 1 year anniversary glass that I great like it’s one of my own children and a growler that I fill frequently! All great stuff!

 

**This holiday, support your local brewery. The above are a few of the wonderful places we are lucky enough to have in our state. I assume most places have gift cards available as well. Below is a link to the complete list of Iowa breweries, find one near you, go there, drink beer, and buy some shit!**

http://www.midwestmicrobrews.com/iowa.html